Wedding Budget 101: The Top 5 Priorities for Your Wedding Day
Planning a wedding is a roller-coaster of emotions. Excitement, nerves, frustration, joy, overwhelm and more for months or maybe even years leading up to your big day! For brides, the priority (and a lot of the anxiety) is often about seeking out the dress of your dreams. Discovering the ideal one with the beautiful shape, material and details, it’s the part that so many look forward to most during the planning process. The price tag takes a back seat in favor of finding the one that makes you look and feel like a princess. Despite having a budget you’re meant to stick to, these words will likely be spoken… “This is the one. I HAVE to have it. I’ll save on something else”. But should this outfit you’re going to wear only once, be where you invest a large portion of your wedding budget? Perhaps not.
Trying to find the perfect vendors for your big day can be as stressful as it is thrilling. With so many to choose from, all seeming like they would fit perfectly, it’s hard to not want to splash out more than you’d planned for each. Not only that, but you have to do so much research on each one and decide if using them means you’re creating the wedding you’d always imagined, while staying within your budget. That’s why it’s super important to know your wedding budget and define your top 5 priorities for it.
In this post, I want to share the top 5 areas of wedding planning I believe should be your priorities (and why), to help you have a magical day that you’ll never forget. Having photographed 50+ weddings, I have worked with a lot of vendors and have seen it all. This post you’re about to read is my professional opinion of where to invest the majority of your wedding budget. However, I understand not everyone will have the same priorities and that’s okay. Hopefully this is helpful and gives you some insider perspective.
Your venue should not only be one of the first things you secure, as they get booked up quickly, but it should be one of your top 5 budget priorities. Choosing the location and venue brings with it so many things to think about.
- Make sure the venue matches wedding style or the overall feel for your wedding. If you want a high end classy feel, an outdoor rustic barn might not be the ideal venue for your day.
- As you walk around a potential property do you see beautiful backdrops that will enhance your wedding photos and add to the overall ambiance for your guests? If the reception will be outdoors, take notice of their outdoor lighting. Dim lanterns and bistro lighting will add dimension and romance to your photos. Be sure to also check out how well the grounds are maintained. If the grounds look beautiful now, make sure to ask how they look in the month you plan to be married in.
- What is included with their packages. Some venues include more than other’s and it’s important to make sure what they include are things you actually need. Be aware that some venues are restrictive as to which vendors they allow, and other’s allow you to bring all of your own vendors. A couple other things to think about are how accessible is the venue and are there hotels and amenities nearby for your guests.
Your venue and their staff are a huge part of your day, and they can really make or break your experience.
Some my favorite venues:
DECOR + FLORALS
You don’t have to go overboard when it comes to decor and florals, however they play a big part in enhancing the look and feel of your big day both on and off camera. Perfectly placed details that reflect not only your color scheme but your personality, and special touches like personalized gifts make the day even more special for you as a couple and your guests. Those you invite will love to see it all come together and will appreciate the thought that’s gone into making it a day as much about them as it is you. There’s lots of room here for personalizing to individuals, allowing you to express your creativity and have only the best quality.
Some of my favorite florists:
Some of my favorite decor companies:
As mentioned in my Ultimate Bridal Show Detox post, planning your wedding is like a full time job. But it doesn’t have to be your full time job. It’s likely that this is your first wedding and you’ve never planned a party this elaborate. I highly recommend hiring someone who has done this before, someone who has worked with countless vendors and can give you the wedding you’ve always dreamed of!! You may be thinking… “I thought this was a post about prioritizing your budget. A wedding planner is only for people who have a HUGE budget, I can’t afford a wedding planner.” I used to think the same thing until I started working in the wedding industry. Wedding planners are so important. The question shouldn’t be “How can I afford to hire a planner?” rather “how can I afford not to hire a planner.”
If time is on your side, you may not require full service planning
If at the very least, I highly recommend at least day of coordination. I know a lot of venues offer coordination, but it’s not the same, I promise. They will likely coordinate your processional and signing of the marriage license and if you’re lucky, bring you a drink or two. However, their first priority is the venue and they want to make sure everything with the venue is taken care of. They will not coordinate with all of your vendors that day and make sure that everyone is there on-time and know where they are going. They aren’t typically prepared for wedding day emergencies the same way a day of coordinator will be. Here is an article straight from the source as to why a wedding planner should be a must have on your list.
If you’re short on time, a full service planner will be your saving grace
Your planner will show you vendor options, define the planning process, manage your budget/vendors/venues, be there for the rehearsals, provide day of coordination and more. They are there to be the main point of contact, organize and confirm the final details, and take the overwhelm off your hands. A lot of couples try to do this all themselves, but quickly realize that help is needed. Save yourself time, energy and money by prioritizing a wedding planner in your budget right from the start.
Some of my favorite planners:
* Courtney Olsen:
PHOTOGRAPHY + PHOTOOBOOTH
After the lights have gone down and the music has faded your photos will be the one thing that keeps your memories alive. Now here’s the part where you’re going to think I’m super biased because I’m photographer, but it’s true right? At the end of the day, all your vendors go home, everything get’s packed up and put away and your day is done. Without beautiful photos, your memories will soon be forgotten.
Photography is more than just a passion
It’s truly part of who I am. I specialize in wedding photography because I love what weddings represent. It’s the beginning of a lifelong covenant, entering into one of the hardest, most rewarding relationships you’ll ever have. Photography means more than just beautiful imagery, it’s capturing the essence of the relationships and the moments behind that beauty. It’s capturing those quiet moments when your dad sees you in your gown for the first time, that tear rolling down that he’s trying to hide, that sweet glance your flower girl gives you when she sees the most beautiful princess in the world. It’s those moments that truly take my breath away.
Not only is your wedding the beginning of one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have, but it’s a celebration of all the relationships you’ve developed along the way, the one’s who have shaped you into the people you are today. Your photographer is so vital for documenting your day, giving you something to look back on and cherish throughout your marriage. Your photographer is also the vendor that you will spend the most time with during your day, so you want to make sure you and your fiancé feel comfortable with this person and trust them completely. You also want to make sure that they are going to fit in with your friends and family and make the day as stress free as possible!
Totally agree that your photographer should be one of your top 5 investments and are ready to learn more? Let’s set up a coffee date and chat details about your wedding. I can’t wait for us to connect. www.ashleyfreehan.com
Your DJ runs your whole reception and in some cases may be the only entertainment for your guests. From the first to the last dance, they’ll help get the mood right through the tracks they play in between the ones you’ve chosen yourself. I’m sure you’ve been to a wedding before where there may have been some awkward silence, no one is dancing, or the music selection is less than thrilling. This is while hiring a professional is so important. They’re so much more than someone who shows up and plays songs.
A professional DJ knows how to read the audience (from their personalities to their ages), how to get the timing right, how to handle requests and will show up with the necessary equipment to keep the tunes going. They’ll get people up on their feet (and keep them up), involved in any actions and even have the key background music playing while your guests help themselves to your evening buffet.
Invest in a good DJ (one that doesn’t charge what seems too good to be true) for someone who can make the whole occasion flow without a glitch, who’ll take the time to get to know you both as well as your guests and who’ll remain totally professional throughout the night.
Some of my favorite DJs:
Invest the majority of your wedding budget in these 5 things and you’re guaranteed they’ll have the biggest and best impact on the planning process, the day and your memories. It’s my hope that you guys enjoy this journey and that your wedding day be filled with less stress and overwhelm, and more love and excitement! Happy planning.
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